Lately on the interwebz there’s been a lot of conversation among and by writers and people who are not writers but who like to talk about what the rules are for writers. This last category includes editors and agents, but also people who used to be those things or who were never those things.
The latest bit of advice to fly about is this: Blogging is dead. It’s a waste of time. Authors should stop blogging.
This “advice” seems to be sourced mainly from this conversation by L.L Barkat at Jane Friedman’s blog. You notice there’s no data there– no analytics at all to support the opinion. There’s no discussion of fiction. And no discussion about the benefits of blogging on your visibility. The underlying assumption that you’d only blog to create a platform big enough to get a book deal has merit for some people. But most of those people are not authors of fiction.
ETA: corrected the spelling of LL Barkat’s last name. (thanks for letting me know!)
Don’t Do it If …
If you’re an author of fiction, here’s reasons NOT to blog.
- You don’t like it
- blogging stresses you out
- You have a tendency to say unfortunate things AND don’t want to deal with the consequences of that in a public forum.
- You can’t think of anything to say
These are all good reasons not to blog. If any of them are true, then don’t blog. End of story. Every author has different likes and dislikes in the part of authoring that has to do with being public and social. Do the ones you like.
Do it because …
- You like it
- You can deal with the consequences of stating strong opinions without being a total douche to others who disagree
- It makes your website more visible. Incoming and outgoing links mean Google (and other search engines) like you better.
- When readers, the curious, and the media, land at your website there’s content there that makes you seem interesting, readable, and interviewable.
- You can post short-lived content that brings new eyes (polls, quizzes, author interviews, etc) or is just fun
- It’s a place where readers can “talk” to you (via comments)
- A blog post makes it easy to run a contest or giveaway. WordPress (and blogger by now I imagine) have plugins that make this a snap
- A blog is not walled off behind Facebook.
If you have a blog, then YOU are the one who knows what your traffic is like. No third party, be they an agent, editor, or publishing pundit, has any idea if your blog brings traffic to your website.
When I look at the top thirty URLS to my website, #2 is my wordpress feed. (I self-host my wordpress blog. If you blog, so should you.)
When I look at the top 10 entry pages to my website (you’re profoundly wrong if you think it’s your home page) #2-10 are my wordpress feed and specific wordpress posts.
Among the top 25 pages at my website:
My wordpress feed is #1. My home page is #2, then it’s a mix of my book pages, specific blog posts, my section on craft.
I’ve been blogging since 2001. Not as long as Scalzi, but longer than just about everyone else. That means there’s a LOT of content there that gets spidered, searched, and ranked.
Your likely Biggest Mistake About Blogging?
IF you blog, your biggest mistake is not self-hosting. Self-hosting means it’s all on my site — all of it. Including analytics that are integrated with all the rest of my website pages. That’s why I can tell you that blogging is a major component of my web traffic. I can see which posts are popular and where they fit in relation to my other web content.
Does it sell Books?
In a way, the answer is, that’s the wrong question. Blogging is a way for me to remind others that I’m around, especially in between books. It’s part of my web presence, and my analytics tell me it’s a big part.
If you’re only blogging to sell books, then I think it’s likely your blog posts in general, aren’t all that interesting to the general fiction reader. Most of us are extremely sensitive to content that’s intended to sell something, particularly when the content is trying to pretend otherwise. We smell it a mile away and often avoid the hell out of it. If that’s the ethos behind your blog, the impact on your web presence is different. Not necessarily wrong, just different.
I enjoy having a forum for some of my strong opinions. I don’t stress much about going a few days or longer between posts. I’ve found that blogging on certain non-writing related subjects can generate a lot of interest. Cooking and Baking. Photographs. Bollywood movies. Content that I am comfortable sharing with anyone who happens by.
There’s a lot I don’t blog about: personal stuff. Family (other than the occasional mention that I have one). Things I don’t think are anyone’s business.
The message is mine to craft, and that ability is a very good reason to blog.
(You should now be able to select more than one answer.)